It takes some very fancy footwork to juggle two careers,” says Rick Springfield, whose metaphor is as happily mixed as his professional life. These days he breaks hearts as the suavely busy bachelor Dr. Noah Drake on TV’s No. 1 soap, General Hospital. And Rick also busts charts with his No. 1 single, Jessie’s Girl, and his first gold LP, Working Class Dog. Says the Australian-born Springfield: “These are the ultimate rewards for a working-class dog—and much better than a bone.”
The lean times do seem over for Springfield, 32 next week, who has been rocking none too successfully for 16 years and acting for five. “I always liked Jessie’s Girl,” says Rick of the song he based on “coveting my friend’s girlfriend a couple of years ago. I was surprised at how fast it caught on.” As for General Hospital, he admits, “I’d never watched a soap opera before I started in March.” He had, however, acted in one. Initially Springfield was concerned about how General Hospital would affect his “credibility as a musician.” It helped that Beach Boy Brian Wilson and many disc jockeys confessed to being G.H. addicts. Besides, Springfield explains, “I started acting later than most people, and I want to learn as much as I can as fast as I can. Doing a soap is a great way to get your acting chops together.”
But not necessarily to keep two people together. His eight-month romance with recording studio secretary Barbara Porter recently played out. “My working so hard just added too much strain,” says Springfield. “Other people have solved the problem, but right now I can’t.” So Springfield pals mainly with his beloved Ron, an unlikely mix of pit bull terrier and Great Dane, who raffishly wears a button-down shirt and tie on the striking Working Class Dog album cover, which was conceived by Rick.
As the son of a lieutenant colonel in the Australian Army, Springfield moved every two or three years as a child. When he was 9, his family moved to England, where he recalls “getting beat up because I was Australian.” He used to ride his bike “through the sand pits of Woking, the original landing site for the invaders in H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds.” At 12, he returned to Australia with his family, and at 17, vibrating to the “universal chord struck by the Beatles,” he dropped out of school to rock. He toured the Vietnam front lines with a band and became a hit Down Under. Then it was back to London to record two albums which flopped, in part because he was pegged as a teen idol. “People would come up and say, ‘I love your album but too bad it’s not more like Donny Osmond’s,’ ” he says with chagrin. “Now I just look at those years as a rehearsal.”
Springfield moved to the U.S. in 1972, but received more attention for his year-long fling with Exorcist actress Linda Blair (“The stories all had a leering quality, but we had a nice thing going”) than for two unsuccessful LPs. He followed his older brother, Michael, into acting in 1976 with gigs on shows like Wonder Woman, The Rock-ford Files and The Young and the Restless. Now his simultaneous successes have enabled him to buy a three-bedroom house in Glendale, Calif., but they have left little time for his hobbies—karate and making stained glass—or for pursuing the serious romance he says he wants. “In short-term relationships, you both just take,” he believes. “Marriage can prevent you from saying ‘Who needs this?’ and I’m sure there will be a moment when a relationship can work out.” But not right now. “It’s my choice,” says Springfield. “It wouldn’t do any good to blow my career for someone. It would be a real bitter beginning.”